Last week at I/ITSEC, the world’s largest modelling, simulation and training show, the U.S. Army and industry partners unveiled new tech for training today’s warfighter. We caught up with Harry Buhl, Business Development Manager for Global Training Solutions at Raytheon, to understand the current challenges facing the U.S. Army and how synthetic training environments can ensure that our warfighters are mission ready. “The Army has eight modernization priorities,” Buhl shared. “However, the number one priority in the field of modelling, training, and simulation is developing state-of-the-art synthetic training environments for soldiers.”
As America’s strategic environment grows ever more complex, having troops that are ready to deploy – not just physically and mentally but tactically – increases the likelihood of mission success. “Live training where a soldier can gain experience in working not only with fellow soldiers on the ground, but also integrating with tanks and helicopters is a very expensive proposition,” noted Buhl. “And while using virtual training environments to augment live training has been available to personnel for several years, the current iterations are not sufficiently realistic or immersive.”
However, this next generation of training technology that was showcased at I/ITSEC places the soldier in a high-fidelity synthetic training environment, with realism more comparable to both live training environments and actual theaters. “Our synthetic training environment enables troops to train at the platoon-level and can integrate other ground and air operations, like tanks and helicopters, as well,” said Buhl. “This provides a far more accurate environment in which to practice maneuvers to a high level of performance and ensure that live training is about fine-tuning capabilities instead of still trying to get them right.”
Improving the likelihood of mission success is one benefit of training in a synthetic training environment; the other benefit is the reduction in costs for the military. “Live training is expensive in both terms of time and budget,” shared Buhl. “But synthetic training environments deliver an effective solution that enables iterative training and real-time review.” While there’s no substitute for live training, synthetic training environments reduce the amount of time needed in a live environment, reducing costs while ensuring troops are highly prepared. Moreover, as Buhl demonstrated, today’s synthetic training environments are highly portable and flexible. Not only can the equipment fit into a Pelican case for easy transportation to continue training in theater, but they are also cloud-enabled and can connect to training and simulation environments regardless of location.
While this generation of modeling, training, and simulation on display at this year’s show represents a significant step forward in sophistication, this is just the beginning of a period of rapid change. Already we’re seeing the impact of virtual and augmented reality on training and artificial intelligence is set to hasten change in 2020. The investments already made by the Department of Defense in open architecture training environments will ensure that synthetic training environments are preparing the warfighter to defend the nation and deliver on the mission for years to come.